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Why Zurich, Ticino and Lucerne want to legalise Sunday shopping

In most Swiss cities and towns, shopping on Sundays is forbidden. Three cantons want to change that.

Shopping on a Sunday could become legal in Zurich. Photo by Arie Wubben on Unsplash
Shopping on a Sunday could become legal in Zurich. Photo by Arie Wubben on Unsplash

Government representatives in the cantons of Zurich, Ticino and Lucerne have called for a change in the rules for Sunday shopping. 

Currently, both retail and grocery shopping is only allowed on Sunday in a handful of touristic mountain cantons. 

The representatives argue a change is needed to boost tourism after the economic damage caused by the Covid pandemic. 

Carmen Walker Späh, Economics Director of the Canton of Zurich, told a media conference on Friday that Swiss cities needed to be more interesting and lively to attract tourists on Sundays. 

READ MORE: Can Switzerland’s ski season withstand Omicron surge?

“In St.Moritz you can also buy your ski equipment on Sundays. But if you forgot your swimming trunks in Zurich, you are faced with closed doors,” Späh said. 

Economic department bosses from Ticino and Lucerne were also present at the conference. 

While tourism is slowly rebounding in Switzerland despite the continued uncertainty of the Covid pandemic, Späh said the situation was particularly dire in larger metropolises like Zurich and Geneva due to the lack of business travellers. 

READ MORE: Swiss tourism rebounding despite Omicron threat

Experts believe that business travel is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Späh called upon “the federal council to give tourism a booster”. 

Will such a change come to pass? 

Currently, Swiss labour law prevents people in certain industries from working on Sundays, which consequentially means that businesses in these areas are closed. 

It is however possible to receive an exemption to the rules to set up ’tourism zones’ where the rules do not apply. This is the case in several resort towns where winter sport is popular. 

EXPLAINED: What are the current rules for entering Switzerland?

In order for a change in policy to become law, an amendment to the ‘no working on Sunday’ ordinance must be approved by federal authorities. 

The first step is for cantons however to canvass opinion locally on the topic and lay out areas where these tourism zones should be. 

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‘We are fully booked’: Over 800 Zurich residents volunteer to try out new jail

A new prison in the west of Zurich has been inundated with responses from people wanting to stay the night.

'We are fully booked': Over 800 Zurich residents volunteer to try out new jail

As we wrote recently, the new Zurich West prison has put out a call for local volunteers to spend several nights in the 241-place jail to test it out before it accepts actual prisoners.

So far, 832 people who presumably have nothing more pressing to do have volunteered to be imprisoned for several days without access to the internet or phones. Because, why not?

The registration closed on Sunday, February 13th. 

READ MORE: New Zurich jail calls for volunteers to serve time

“You could say we are fully booked” a spokesperson for the prison told Swiss media

The dress rehearsal, as it were, will take place between March 24th and 27th in conditions that will be as close as possible to reality. 

This means participants must hand in their mobile phones and other devices at the entrance.

Different dietary requirements can be catered to, although only vegetarian, Halal and non-vegetarian options are on offer. No last meals will be served. 

On the other hand, the body search will be carried out only on those who consent.

In addition, a keyword will be agreed upon, with which the fake convicts will be able to signal that they have had enough of isolation.

The selection process of candidates is about to begin, though given that four times as many people have applied as there are open spots “there probably won’t be room for everyone,” in the new prison, said a spokesperson the Department of Execution of Sentences and Reinstatement.

Cost of living in Switzerland: How to save money if you live in Zurich

‘There are only winners in this situation’

Prison officials have extolled the virtues of the program, saying people can get a real idea of how it feels to be in prison – without having to commit a crime. 

“There are only winners in this test operation. As a participant, you can experience in a safe environment how it might feel for a real arrested person to suddenly be locked up.” 

“Make your own comparison between fiction from various series and reality in Switzerland.”